Charter CEO Touts Brand-Building Approach

Charter Communications CEO Mike Lovett said the company’s investment in brand-building advertising last year, followed by a return to more direct-response-oriented promotions in the latter half, will pay off in the long term.  

“If we were to do it all over again, we would do the exact same thing,” he said Wednesday at an investor event.

Over the first half of 2011, the cable operator shifted marketing dollars that would usually be used for direct-response marketing to a strategy of “refreshing” the brand. Lovett indicated that may have slowed results during that period, notably with losses of phone customers.

But he added: “We’re reaping the benefits over the long term” of “getting the brand promise a little bit shinier.”

Lovett is leaving Charter next month to be replaced by former Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge.

As many cable companies believe the video market is mature, Lovett said Charter is looking to attract new customers with its broadband product.



Lovett did say the company’s deployment of TiVo functionality for its set-top-boxes should help with video, providing a more attractive and easier-to-use interface for consumers. That is something the cable industry has been looking to do in the face of competition from Netflix.

Calling it a “real game changer” that can help “win back share,” Lovett said Charter piloted the system in Fort Worth last year and rolled it out across the market last month. In the first half of 2012, it will be rolled out across the rest of the company’s footprint.

Charter says the TiVo product improves search functionality and offers an appealing recommendation engine.

Lovett said the company has no plans this year to charge customers based on online consumption. “We look at it as a nice option at some point in time,” he said.

He indicated over time, usage-based pricing could be used to offer low costs for light users, such as the elderly who mostly use email.



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